LVR University Hospital Essen, in collaboration with Algea Care, Europe’s leading telehealth platform for cannabis, has announced the results of a groundbreaking study on the efficacy of medical cannabis in treating chronic depression: patients showed significant improvement, with the reported severity rate of their depression reduced significantly, with no severe side effects and a low dropout rate.
The study has been published in the renowned peer-reviewed journal Pharmacopsychiatry of the Association for Neuropsychopharmacology and Pharmacopsychiatry (AGNP). The results suggest that treatment with medical cannabis may sustainably improve chronic depression. However, these pilot results should be tested by prospective cohort studies and randomized controlled trials – preferably with a larger study population – in order to derive valid treatment recommendations, according to the study’s authors.
“These results are extremely promising and encouraging, as they expand the evidence for the continued use of medical cannabis in the treatment of psychiatric illnesses in Germany,” said Dr. Julian Wichmann, founder and CEO of Algea Care and Co-Founder of Bloomwell Group, Algea Care’s parent company. “In addition, the study lays the foundation for future research projects on the effects of cannabis therapy in the treatment of mental health conditions and illnesses.”
During the course of this practical study based on real-world evidence and data provided by Algea Care, 59 patients with chronic depression, who had already been unsuccessfully treated for chronic depression with traditional prescription medications and had agreed to an anonymized evaluation of this alternative course of treatment, were provided with medical cannabis flower over an 18-week period beginning in 2021. They exhibited no serious side effects, a low dropout rate, and a statistically and clinically significant improvement in the medically documented severity of their depression during the treatment.
As part of their medical care, the patients rated the severity of their depression on a scale from 0 to 10. Initially, the average value was 6.9 points, and after six weeks of medical cannabis use, the average rate lowered to 5.1 points. After twelve weeks, the average value fell to 4.1 and dropped to 3.8 after 18 weeks. In 14 patients (23.7 percent), the severity of the depression reported was halved after just six weeks.
While a third of patients (35.6%) reported side effects, they were also classified as mild, including four patients each (6.8 percent) with dry eyes, dry mouth and an increased appetite; Two patients (3.4 percent) reported trouble concentrating, fatigue or disorientation. One patient reported nausea, headaches, changes in taste, a scratchy throat, lethargy and restlessness. No serious side effects, such as psychosis, were reported, and the research team of doctors, psychiatrists and scientists confirmed the safety of medical treatment with cannabis.
The research also comes on the heels of another pivotal development for medical cannabis in Germany, as the federal government is set to reclassify cannabis as a non-narcotic and enable doctors to prescribe the plant as an Rx medication, paving the way for increased access and lower costs.
“Patients are the real winners here; between these impactful findings on the potential benefits of medical cannabis and the German government’s plans to enact more progressive policies, medical cannabis has the potential to become one of the most reliable and safest options for the treatment of chronic conditions,” added Niklas Kouparanis, Co-Founder of Bloomwell Group. “With decriminalization and reclassification, cannabis patient numbers in January will likely increase into the millions.”
The list of the study’s authors can be found below. For more information on Algea Care and its telehealth platform and treatment services, visit www.algeacare.com.